Looking for the best orthopedic surgeon in the country
April 9, 2010 7:01 PM   Subscribe

Please help me find the best orthopedic surgeon in the country. My brother needs reconstructive surgery on his foot to correct a botched operation, and we will go anywhere in the U.S. to get the best care for him.

Two years ago, my 15-year-old brother had a surgical procedure to correct a tarsal coalition. The surgery was unsuccessful and he had another surgery last year in an attempt to correct the first procedure by removing a large screw that was placed in his foot. Too much bone was removed from his foot during the first operation and now the bone needs to be replaced (from what I understand.) He is still in pain and has difficulty standing and walking, and our orthopedic surgeon here in Florida is recommending that we find a reconstructive surgeon for him. We will travel anywhere in the country if we can find a doctor who can perform the necessary operation and relieve him of his pain.
posted by tatiana wishbone to Health & Fitness (13 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I can heartily recommend Dr. Marque Allen (scroll down) in San Antonio, TX. He reconstructed my busted up ankle with a plate and some screws and it works perfectly now and I have no pain anymore.

I chose him because he seemed very competent and also operates on multi-million dollar athletes (the San Antonio Spurs basketball team). I don't know if he does the kinds of extreme reconstructions you're talking about though, but I'd recommend him to anyone with a foot/ankle problem.
posted by sanka at 7:17 PM on April 9, 2010

The Orthopedics department of Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota was ranked #1 in Orthopedics by U.S. News & World Report, which does not surprise me because I've only ever heard great things about Mayo.
posted by sallybrown at 7:21 PM on April 9, 2010

IANAD, etc., etc. You need to break this quest into a couple of categories before you make your search. I had reconstructive work done by an Orthopedic Surgeon who specialized in surgery that was distal of the wrist. Nothing to do with any part of the body that was not a hand. I strongly suggest that you narrow your search to a surgeon that specializes in surgery of the foot. Second, I suggest that, within that narrow field, you find a reconstructive foot surgeon. Repair of previous work is a specialty within itself.

My approach to this would be to determine where the best Orthopedic teaching hospitals are and ask them to suggest a good reconstructive foot surgeon. They may suggest a member of their own teaching staff or a recent or long-gone graduate of their school. When you have narrowed it down to a couple of possibilities, look up their C.V.s on the web and seek one who has done similar work. If you can get an email address for any of them, don't be afraid to email them with a rough outline of the problem and ask if they either are interested in the case, or can recommend a surgeon who would be.
posted by Old Geezer at 7:22 PM on April 9, 2010 [1 favorite]

I don't have specific doctor recommendations, but a relative of mine worked with orthopedic surgeons for decades, and was of the opinion was that the best surgeons in this field work with the Army (huge numbers of foot injuries in the infantry) and with pro football teams.

I'd look for surgeons who have recently done a similar procedure on some famous pro athlete in Google News.
posted by zippy at 8:20 PM on April 9, 2010

As far as famous sports surgeons, yes they exist, everyone knows Dr James Andrews. He's operated on the top of the top, like Tom Brady, Brett Favre and Albert Pujols. According to his wiki, he opened the Andrews Institute for Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine in Gulf Breeze, Florida. So there's a big lead.
posted by sanka at 8:24 PM on April 9, 2010

This is a well-respected group in your area. Dr. Roy Sanders is well-known internationally, and is close to you.
posted by 6:1 at 8:38 PM on April 9, 2010

Consider asking the Hospital for Special Surgery for a referral. They are excellent (in NYC). Orthopedics is pretty much all that they do. I have had friends who went there for other surgeries and the support staff is excellent, as are the facilities. They had good doctors as well but I don't have the names and they were different areas of the body (shoulder and knee) so I don't think it'll translate.

The Mayo clinic is a good bet as well, again, their support staff are excellent and they have a wonderful reputation for a reason, but can't recommend a specific doc because was there for a different reason.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 9:11 PM on April 9, 2010

I'd contact the Steadman clinic in Colorado (formerly Steadman-Hawkins) and see if this is something they do. They have a ridiculous number of top, top doctors there and will do an email pre-consult thingy and review your records at no cost.
posted by fshgrl at 12:56 AM on April 10, 2010

Dr. Andrews, as mentioned before, also works out of the institute that bears his name at St. Vincent, in Birmingham, AL. My grandmother got her hip replaced by a doctor through his organization at St. Vincent and had a perfect experience.
posted by quodlibet at 6:39 AM on April 10, 2010

UPMC (University of Pittsburgh Medical Center) has an excellent orthopedic surgery department. There are (at least) two people in the Foot and Ankle division who might be worth contacting: Patrick Burns and Dane Wukich both specialize in reconstructive surgery of the foot and ankle. Dr. Wukich, in particular, might be excellent: he's the chief of Foot and Ankle, he did foot surgery for the Army for the better part of a decade and was chief of Orthopedic Surgery for Desert Storm, and he is the orthopedist to the Pittsburgh Ballet and for several local college football teams. Plus he has an active research program and is on editorial and review boards of a couple journals, which suggests that he keeps very well up-to-date on the latest procedures and research findings.

Disclaimers: I'm a graduate student at Pitt (in an unrelated field). I've been treated by people with cross-appointments in this department, although it was my knee that was injured and I luckily didn't need surgery, and I thought that my doctors did a wonderful job.
posted by kataclysm at 8:50 AM on April 10, 2010

Upon further consideration: There is no "best orthopedic surgeon in the country." There are a lot of great orthopedic surgeons, all of whom have their own particular specialties. Even within the same body part, and with the same injury, the "best orthopedic surgeon" to do a given procedure might vary a lot, depending on if they were operating on a starting NFL quarterback vs. someone's diabetic grandma.

Similarly, while it's likely that a surgeon is a talented surgeon if he's working in a highly-ranked orthopedic surgery department (the Mayo Clinic, etc.) that doesn't mean that the surgeon is the best one to do your specific procedure.

What I would really recommend for you to do is to find out the exact name of the procedure that your brother is going to need to undergo, run some Pubmed searches on that, and figure out who is doing research specifically on that. For starters, searching for "tarsal coalition complications adolescent" produces recent reviews by Neal Blitz at the Bronx-Lebanon Hospital Center, K. Kernbach at the Kaiser Foundation Hospital in Vallejo, TM Philbin at the Orthopedic Foot and Ankle Center in Columbus OH, and JR Kean at the department of orthopedics at the Ohio State University (Columbus Children's Hospital). Then, do your best to contact the people who are doing the research and try to get a referral for, not a mythical "best" surgeon, but your brother's best surgeon.
posted by kataclysm at 9:07 AM on April 10, 2010

Considering that your brother is only 17 and probably has some development ahead of him, you also want to consider that a pediatric plastic surgeon might be a possibility. While they may say that 17 is old enough to be an adult, as a result of your injuries you may be a special case. Regardless of where you end up going, if this were my family, I'd consider at least getting the group's pediatric surgeon to at least consult on the case.
posted by ruwan at 11:04 AM on April 10, 2010

My nephew, who is an elite runner, was found to have a bone cyst in his ankle 3 years ago. My brother looked for the best orthopedic department in the country and wound up taking my nephew to The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston.
posted by neuron at 2:03 PM on April 10, 2010

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